Behind Murrayfield's West Stand the area that used to be known as 'the back pitches', where Scotland teams have put in hard training yards down the years, has been dug up and fenced off. Work is about to start on the Edinburgh tram system and on the Water of Leith flood prevention scheme. Sadly for Scotland, on the pitch inside the national stadium, they are suffering from what has become a drought.
In the aftermath of their latest failure to beat the All Blacks, making 27 in 103 years, Frank Hadden, Scotland's head coach, lamented: "We seemed to dominate the territory and possession and we won the line breaks 9-6, but when it came to actually finishing New Zealand showed their class."
Indeed they did. The second-string All Blacks – the thirds that would have been, but for the post World Cup exodus to the northern hemisphere – finished off four chances, all of them from kicks of one description or another. Scotland finished off none.
At Murrayfield, it is becoming a depressingly familiar story. The fact is that Scotland have yet to cross the opposition line at their home ground in 2008; in defeat against France and victory against England in the Six Nations they managed only goal-kicks. On Saturday, their points came from two Chris Paterson penalties. Unless Hadden's men contrive a try-line break against the Springboks this Saturday they will have gone through a calendar year with a complete blank at Murrayfield.
They had their moments on Saturday – in the opening minute, when Paterson got within striking range, and in the closing 10 minutes of the first-half, when their dominant pack were encamped on the All Black line. Ultimately, though, the gulf between the sides in terms of pace and precision was reflected on the scoreboard.
All four New Zealand tries – Stephen Donald's cross-field kick for Anthony Tuitavake; Richie Kahui's prompting grubber for Piri Weepu; Donald's garryowen for Kahui; and Donald's dink of a kick and pop-up pass for Anthony Boric – were born of a superior swiftness and assurance of thought and deed. Only one member of Scotland's three-quarter line has even scored an international try, and sadly for them poor Sean Lamont is back on the injured list again. Like his country's attacking department, the Northampton wing is in a hamstrung state.
Scotland: Penalties Paterson 2. New Zealand: Tries Tuitavake, Weepu, Kahui, Boric; Conversions Donald 2, Carter; Penalties Donald 2.
Scotland: C Paterson (Edinburgh); T Evans (Glasgow), B Cairns (Edinburgh), N De Luca (Edinburgh), S Lamont (Northampton); P Godman (Edinburgh), M Blair (Edinburgh, capt); A Jacobsen (Edinburgh), R Ford (Edinburgh), E Murray (Northampton), N Hines (Perpignan), J Hamilton (Edinburgh), J White (Sale), J Barclay (Glasgow), A Hogg (Edinburgh). Replacements: H Southwell (Edinburgh) for Lamont, 41; A Dickinson (Gloucester) for Murray, 54; M Mustchin (Edinburgh) for Hines, 54; S Gray (Northampton) for White, 62; D Hall (Glasgow) for Ford, 64; Murray for Jacobsen, 65; D Parks (Glasgow) for Godman, 70; R Lawson (Gloucester) for Blair, 72.
New Zealand: I Toeava (Blues); A Tuitavake (Blues), R Kahui (Chiefs), M Nonu (Hurricanes), J Rokocoko (Blues); S Donald (Chiefs), P Weepu (Hurricanes); J Mackintosh (Highlanders), K Mealamu (Blues, capt), J Afoa (Blues), A Boric (Blues), A Williams (Blues), K Read (Crusaders), A Thomson (Hiughlanders), L Messam (Chiefs). Replacements: C Jane (Hurricanes) for Toeava, 40; A Ellis (Crusaders) for Weepu, 53; N Tialata (Hurricanes) for Mackintosh, 54; C Flynn (Crusaders) for Mealamu, 60; R McCaw (Crusaders) for Thomson, 60; R Filipo (Hurricanes) for Williams, 66; D Carter (Crusaders) for Ellis, 70.
Referee: W Barnes (England).Reuse content